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WVU colleges collaborating on $3.4 million USDA grant

WVVU Law Dean Amelia Rinehart

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A cross-campus collaboration at  West Virginia University will help the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service research and review its Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, which has safeguarded millions of acres of productive farm and ranchland into perpetuity.

The NRCS has awarded a $3.4 million grant to the  Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic at the WVU  College of Law, which will partner with the  Energy Land Management program in the  Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design on the project.

“A grant of this magnitude and scope takes WVU Law’s national service to a new level,” said  Amelia Rinehart, dean of the College of Law. “The project ultimately benefits the American people and it provides our students with invaluable work experience in land use law.”

Darrell Donahue, dean of the Davis College, agreed.

Professor McDiarmid wins lifetime achievement award

WVU Law professor Marjorie McDiarmid

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Professor Marjorie McDiarmid of the West Virginia University College of Law has received a lifetime achievement award from the Association of American Law Schools.

McDiarmid, the Steptoe & Johnson Professor of Law and Technology, was recognized for her work in pro bono and public service law. 

For 35 years, McDiarmid directed and helped expand the clinical law program at WVU until stepping down in 2021. She continues to teach the law, including evidence and civil procedure courses.

“Over the course of her career and continuing today, Professor McDiarmid changed the landscape of clinical legal education and has trained hundreds of lawyers to carry those same values of service and leadership to their communities,” said Amelia Rinehart, dean of the College of Law. “She pioneered using technology to break down barriers to legal services, and she committed herself and our college to improving the lives of multiple generations of West Virginians with her vision to provide free legal assistance throughout the state. We cannot measure the impact she has had on the state of West Virginia and on the legal profession.”

Michael Johnson '03 named GLAD chief legal strategist

WVU Lawa 2003 graduate Michael Johnson

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Michael Johnson, a 2003 graduate of the West Virginia University College of Law, is the new chief legal strategist for GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.

Known as GLAD, the Boston-based organization uses strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education to fight discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status and sexual orientation. 

“For more than four decades, GLAD’s cutting-edge legal work has driven monumental advancements in LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections, transgender rights, family equality, the rights of people living with HIV, and more across New England and nationally,” Johnson said. “But even as we gain increased legal protections, our efforts are constantly being challenged.”

Johnson joins GLAD after nearly 20 years in leadership roles at Western New England University School of Law, where he most recently served as associate dean for student affairs and enrollment planning. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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